On his 58th birthday, here’s a look at how Adil Hussain created an enviable filmography with a series of significant projects in the recent past.
On a day when Adil Hussain turns a year older, the highlights of the actor’s colourful life merit a special mention. A straightforward birthday wish and a token of gratitude for his contributions to the film industry is simply not enough. We ought to go all out and celebrate Hussain’s major achievements. But first, a short preamble to the critically acclaimed Indian actor’s impactful career.
Born in Goalpara, Assam in 1963; Hussain was the youngest in a family with seven children. His early career as a comedian and actor kicked off with local comedy-dramas played across Assam. As a young standup comedian, Hussain was among the founders of the Bhaya Mama Group, that specialised in political satires. He also acted in several Assamese films (for television) and radio plays. His obvious talent shone through during these minor flicks, but a big breakthrough was yet to come.
As with all successful people, if you persevere enough, you will eventually hit a gold mine. After years of work on the stage, spanning dozens of productions and thousands of performances, Adil Hussain’s performance in Othello: A Play in Black and White (1999) earned him lofty praise. The film received the Fringe First in Edinburgh and put the spotlight on the talented actor. He has since acted in multiple noteworthy films like the Oscar-winning Life of Pi, Hotel Salvation, Maj Rati Ketaki, The Wayfarer, Tigers, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Angry Indian Goddesses, and The Violin Player. He is best known for his admirable roles in English Vinglish and Lootera.
A master of his craft, Hussain ranks among the most decorated actors in the film industry. He received a National Award, India, in 2017 for his role in Hotel Salvation and Maj Rati Ketaki.
He has won the Kanon Prisen award, the Norwegian National Award, Washington DC South Asian Film Festival and Rajasthan International Film Festival under the “Best Actor” category. Hussain has also received the “Best Actor” Award for his part in Lessons in Forgetting at the New Jersey Independent South Asian Cinefest. The Critic’s Choice award for Best Actor 2021, the London Indian International Film Festival's 'Outstanding Achievement Award 2020', the 'Best Assamese Person of the Year Award 2015' by Newslive TV and the 'Global Icon Award 2021' by Prag are other notable distinctions.
Hussain was one of the main actors in the Netflix series Delhi Crime which went on to become the first Indian production to win an international Emmy award. For the longest, Hussain’s characters have always showcased a deep sense of empathy, along with being perfect examples of quiet serenity.
That is not to say he has always attempted roles under a positive hue. English Vinglish’s Satish Godbole was anything but perfect. Steeped in the norms of patriarchy, Satish was unaware of his privileges and how he exercised them nonchalantly over his wife and family. The fact that he was problematic was obvious. Yet, when his wife Shashi (Sridevi) chooses to emancipate herself, Satish’s surprise and desire to transform for her is acutely endearing. Conversely, Hussain’s short stint in the recent anthology Love in the Times of Corona saw him as a middle-aged widower who tries to rekindle his romantic side with his neighbour after much hesitation. Not only was his character sensitive, but Hussain managed to imbue a sense of sedate maturity.
Hussain has been, more than anything else, an astute luminary whose talent has shone at a later age, but (as is evident from his works) managed to leave an indelible mark in the canvas of recent cinematic literature.
A true veteran with nothing left to prove, Hussain breathes life into a character in a way that even the most cynical critic is forced to appreciate.